IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

The political environment looks like 2014, and that's scary news for Democrats

First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
President Biden Arrives To White House After New Jersey Travel
President Joe Biden walks on the South Lawn of the White House on Oct. 25, 2021.Chris Kleponis / Bloomberg via Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Nine months into Joe Biden’s presidency, the political environment for Democrats right now looks more like 2014 than 2010.

And one year before the 2022 midterms, that 2014 comparison should frighten every Democratic strategist this day after Halloween.

Here’s the NBC News/WSJ poll from Oct. 2010:

  • Obama approval: 47 percent approve, 49 percent disapprove (registered voters)
  • Nation’s direction: 32 percent right track, 59 percent wrong track (RVs)
  • Obama economic handling: 43 percent approve, 53 percent disapprove (RVs)
  • Congressional preference: D+2 (RVs)

Here’s the NBC/WSJ poll from Oct. 2014:

  • Obama approval: 42 percent approve, 52 percent disapprove (RVs)
  • Nation’s direction: 25 percent right track, 65 percent wrong track (RVs)
  • Obama economic handling: 43 percent approve, 53 percent disapprove (RVs)
  • Congressional preference: R+2 (RVs)

And here’s the NBC News poll from Oct. 2021:

  • Biden approval: 42 percent approve, 54 percent disapprove (adults)
  • Nation’s direction: 22 percent right track, 71 percent wrong track (adults)
  • Biden economic handling: 40 percent approve, 57 percent disapprove (adults)
  • Congressional preference: D+2 (RVs)

If you want to see how this Tuesday’s race for Virginia governor has become so close in a state Biden won by 10 points last year, here’s what the Mark Warner (D) vs. Ed Gillespie (R) Senate race looked like for Democrats back in 2014:

Warner 49.2 percent, Gillespie 48.4 percent.

Folks, it’s the political environment.

The good news for Democrats from our poll is that the 2022 midterms are still a year away, and it’s possible to see how Biden’s numbers recover.

The bad news for Democrats from our poll, however, is almost every set of numbers.

GOP makes gains on key issues

That includes the issue handling between Democrats and Republicans. Especially when you compare where some of those numbers from 2020.

Here is each party’s advantage when the NBC News poll asked respondents which party does a better job handling a particular issue:

  • Border security: R+27 (48 percent said GOP does a better job handling it, versus 21 percent for Democrats)
  • Inflation: R+24
  • Crime: R+22 (was R+12 in Oct. 2020)
  • National security: R+22
  • Economy: R+18 (was R+13 in Oct. 2020)
  • Being effective and getting things done: R+13
  • Immigration: R+9 (was D+6 in Oct. 2020)
  • Election security: D+1
  • Voting rights: D+5
  • Abortion: D+10
  • Education: D+10
  • Covid: D+12 (was D+17 in Oct. 2020)
  • Climate change: D+24 (was D+27 in Oct. 2020)

Tweet of the day

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

More than 5 million: The number of people who have died from Covid-19 worldwide.

749,274: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far, per the most recent data from NBC News. (That’s 2,530 more since Friday morning.)

45,985,662: The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 151,675 more since Friday morning.)

422,070,099: The number of total vaccine doses administered in the U.S., per the CDC. (That’s 4,274,562 more since Friday morning.)

18,607,505: The number of booster vaccine doses administered in the U.S., per the CDC. (That’s 3,190,165 more since Friday morning.)

58 percent: The share of all Americans who are fully vaccinated, per the CDC.

69.6 percent: The share of all Americans 18-years and older who are fully vaccinated, per the CDC.

2,000: The number of New York City firefighters who have taken medical leave over the last week amid the department’s new rules on vaccinations.

12 percent: The portion of the California recall election votes that were cast by voters between the ages of 18-29, down from 17 percent in November of 2020.

730: The number of municipalities the New York Times reports relies on fines or fees for at least 10 percent of its revenue, a finding part of its deep dive on traffic stops and why they sometimes turn violent.

Final day of campaigning in Virginia

In the last day of campaigning before Tuesday’s gubernatorial race in Virginia, Democrat Terry McAuliffe holds get-out-the-vote events in Roanoke, Virginia Beach, Richmond and Northern Virginia at 6:45 p.m. ET – where he will deliver remarks denouncing Donald Trump’s tele-rally for GOP nominee Glenn Youngkin.

Youngkin, meanwhile, hits Roanoke, Richmond, Virginia Beach and Loudoun County at 9:00 p.m. ET.

And at publication time, Donald Trump just released this statement: “Remember this, Glenn Youngkin is a good man, a hardworking man, a successful man. He loves Virginia and wants to cut your taxes, save your children’s education, and many other very good things. Terry McAuliffe is a low-life politician who lies, cheats, and steals. He was a terrible high-tax governor and would be, if elected, an even worse governor again. I say to all of our millions of followers, don’t listen to the Fake News and misleading advertisements written largely by already-acknowledged perverts. Get out and vote for a man who will be a great governor, Glenn Youngkin!”

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

The Washington Post’s massive, new investigation into the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol details that law enforcement brushed aside clear warnings about the potential for violence, that Trump repeatedly rebuffed requests from allies to try to call off the attack, and how deeply engrained support for Trump’s unfounded elections claims in the GOP.

The Supreme Court hears arguments on Texas’ restrictive abortion law at 10 a.m. ET Monday.

Politico reports that top Democrats are concerned about McAuliffe’s black voter turnout.

Vice President Kamala Harris is set to pitch new action on climate change in a Monday event in New York.

More than a dozen states are rethinking how they count the incarcerated population in the redistricting process.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki has tested positive for Covid-19.